The Psychological Trauma Care Center (PTCC) at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center is a research and treatment center for those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The Center researches early intervention treatments with patients that arrive at the hospital emergency room following a traumatic event.

The current research utilizes a computerized intervention that develops cognitive skills that will assist in coping and recovering from emotional distress. 

The Center works in collaboration with the Department of Emergency Medicine and Shaare Zedek’s Psychiatric Unit.

What is PTSD?
A traumatic event involves a sudden threat that may include a life endangering experience, a threat to the physical wellbeing, or sudden, unexpected exposure to injury, brutality and/or abuse. The most common traumatic events in Israel are car accidents, work accidents, burns, terror attacks, war and physical or sexual abuse.

A traumatic event generally leads to an emotional reaction. The immediate responses is  not regarded as a disorder and in most cases is  normal and passes with time without upsetting the emotional balance. Sometimes an event may even lead to an enhanced learning process and personal growth.
A small proportion of individuals exposed to traumatic events are likely to suffer from PTSD. These people continue to remember the event at all times and in ways they cannot control. They may suffer from nightmares and have difficulty detaching themselves from the bad feelings associated with the event.

Other characteristic symptoms of PTSD are sleep disturbances, irritable behavior or angry outbursts, problems with concentration and memory, startled reactions to sudden noises, and hypervigilance.  People with these symptoms avoid places, situations or thoughts that remind them of the event, reduce their activities and feel tense. Some experience apathy during activities they enjoyed before the event, maintain a distance from others and have difficulty experiencing positive emotions. People with PTSD continue living under the influence of the event and time does not heal the wound.

Some of these symptoms together with clinically significant distress may impair an individual's social and occupational functioning as well as his/her quality of life.

Early treatment among trauma survivors at high risk for developing psychopathology is beneficial and may prevent this disturbing syndrome. Evaluation and treatment requires skilled clinicians with expertise in treatment methods and a capacity for adapting them to the patient’s needs. It is also important to develop methods that are easily accessible to the patient and have a fast and efficient application.

The goal of Shaare Zedek’s Psychological Trauma Care Center (PTCC) is to contribute to the empirical and clinical knowledge of PTSD prevention by developing and applying advanced methods of treatment and approaches.

About the Center
The Psychological Trauma Care Center, founded by Prof. Arieh Shalev opened in May 2014. The Center is the result of Prof. Shalev’s clinical and research experience with trauma survivors at the Center for Emotional Trauma Research in Hadassah Medical Center. That center was opened in 1989 after the first Palestinian uprising (Intifada) and accumulated years of experience in treatment and early intervention.

Prof. Arieh Shalev, former Head of the Psychiatric Department at Hadassah Hospital, is a world-renowned scholar in the field of PTSD. 
Dr. Ofer Merin, Principal Investigator, is the hospital’s Vice-President, Director of the Trauma Unit and a Cardiothoracic Surgeon. He acquired extensive experience with PTSD after serving for more than a decade in IDF field hospitals, and in delegations to Haiti, Japan, the Philippines, and in helping Syrians wounded in the civil war.

Current Research
The current research study is an innovative intervention for those suffering from PTSD symptoms after a traumatic event. Approximately two weeks after a patient is referred to the Emergency Room, a clinician will contact him/her to evaluate his/her emotional response to the event s/he has experienced. If the patient describes a significant emotional reaction and is interested in receiving help, the Center team will suggest participation in the research study.

The aim of the study is to evaluate the impact of cognitive and brain exercises on the ability to control negative feelings, to react adequately to external stimulation and to pay less attention to negative information. These exercises have proven effective for symptoms of depression and anxiety. There is a basis to believe that these exercises, when employed during the early aftermath of the stressful incident, can provide participants with improved capacities for emotional coping and thereby accelerate recovery. The computer training is done on a home computer using easy web based programs. In contrast to other PTSD treatments, the computerized exercises do not involve reenactment of the traumatic event or the memories associated with it. All participants are assessed by a clinician before and after the intervention, and our clinical evaluation is shared with the participant.

Proving the effectiveness of this approach would be a real scientific and clinical breakthrough. It could provide a new and accessible intervention which would help future victims overcome their traumatic experiences, recover and continue their day to day lives.
The clinical staff has years of experience in screening and recruitment of individuals at this stage of potential PTSD, discriminating between participants that will maintain symptoms and those who will recover spontaneously. The participants will contribute to the joint effort of understanding how to reduce stress after a traumatic event.

The research study meets all ethical regulations as required and is subject to hospital guidelines.